4-5-12 Reinventing The Past Into The Future
After venting about Simon Reynolds’ book yesterday, I thought a bit more fun and fantasy were in order today.
Reynolds doesn’t seem to like Youtube, and with that I agree. Useless to me, it is. I rather liked the idea of being able to control what was on your TV, but the old decks were really physically heavy! It took two punks to lift a Sony ¾” U-matic deck onto a rack! And the first Sony Beta decks weren’t much lighter. And expensive!? A carton of 2 hour Beta tapes was about $60.00 for 20 hours of videotape (a heck of a lot cheaper than trying to buy a ¾” tape!)
My late brother was the first person I knew that gravitated towards video. He used to climb up the telephone pole in the alley and connect us to the dreaded ‘cable’ – so we could watch / record MTV. The earliest airchecks that I still have (from about ’83 or so) unfortunately have the pause-button-itis feeling of “Shit, this videotape is really expensive, better hit the pause button and save that 3 minutes of videotape on a ‘Night Flight’ aircheck”.
What a hassle it was to try and hook up the Beta hi-fi deck to the FM radio, as “Goodnight L.A.” used to simulcast in stereo. MTV always said it was stereo, but it wasn’t when bro bootlegged the cable from up the pole. CBS / NBC etc. went stereo about ’85 or so – you should see my off-air tapes of Sade on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson from ’85 – amazing looking and in perfect stereo hi-fi.
After stereo, the next hurdle we overcame was electricity: 50hz instead of our customary 60hz. PAL TV! My first PAL TV and VHS deck came from a place on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills. The VHS deck wasn’t hi-fi yet, but it did have a ‘Dolby’ button! The TV’s tuner wouldn’t work here, but it gloriously played the PAL VHS tapes that I mail-ordered from England and that friends sent me from around the globe. I didn’t own a standards converter until I went to Tokyo in 1994!
So, you can dub ¾” tapes to Beta hi-fi, you can watch PAL / SECAM tapes in their original format, you have a C-band satellite dish on your roof (Thanks, bro!) and you can tune in MuchMusic (real stereo) and Musique Plus (only ever mono, that I could find).
I used to keep a list of everything that I intended to “keep” on videotape – that list got up to over 20,000 titles, before I gave it up. Those who participate in my “Music Video” series know what I am talking about. I’ll eventually get through the hundreds of cartons of airchecks currently stored out in the garage. I just hope the SuperBeta, Laser Disc and DVD recorders don’t wear out first!
And you want me to have anything to do with Youtube? No thanks!